The coronavirus pandemic that continues to spread worldwide demands a fresh wave of innovation to respond to this unprecedented event. Many health care facilities face capacity issues and need to optimize efficiency while ensuring safety for patients and staff members.
Robotic process automation (RPA) is a powerful solution for organizations facing these challenges. RPA automates repetitive, high-volume manual processes involving multiple applications and process steps. This enables rapid response—bots can enter the data from a vast number of spreadsheets into, for example, an epidemiological database, in a matter of seconds.
The bots in RPA are made purely of software code—no plastic or metal bodies are involved, let alone complex humanoid shapes. Developing and deploying an RPA solution is a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS)-based software development effort; and, organizations must incorporate their operational and governance processes.
Bots increase accuracy and quality across high-volume workloads, enable standardization, increase capacity and drive down costs. Bots also generate reports, respond to events and assist in performing administrative tasks so front-line staff are able to help their customers.
Bots, however, are only half of the story. A robotic operations center (ROC) also is important for delivering large scale RPA implementations, such as responding to the pandemic. The ROC will provide enterprise governance, implement a comprehensive strategy, provision a framework for RPA and implement an intake process to vet potential use cases. Experts who understand how RPA is applicable to automate existing processes should carry out that vetting.
Health care organizations are using bots in various ways to address needs created by the pandemic. For example, for one hospital where CGI had worked for a number of years, our experts developed three RPA processes to aid with the pandemic:
- Texting information to patients before a scheduled appointment. By collecting information from various secure databases and following policy guidance coded in the software, this solution provides up-to-date information and precautions for scheduled appointments. The result? Fewer non-critical visits and decreased risk of spreading the virus.
- Communicating test results. The bot collects data on virus lab tests and sends results to various stakeholders via text message, email, pager, etc., relieving office personnel of that task.
- Contact tracing of patients and health care employees. Contact tracing plays a critical role in slowing the spread of the virus and helping authorities make informed decisions. This solution enables a more streamlined infection tracking process that lowers the risk of additional exposure.
These solutions will reduce end-to-end processing time by 95%, and free 2,000 hours of hospital personnel time over 6 months, enabling them to focus on more value-creating tasks and interactions with patients.
The pandemic highlighted the importance of having a resilient technology supply chain to provide agility, elasticity and security. Achieving this requires managing and harmonizing a vast array of technologies and services, including intelligent automation, cloud technologies and smart managed services.
I invite you to read another example of how automation is assisting our health care clients to improve agility and resilience in unprecedented times: Collaborating with British Columbia health sector leaders to digitize and automate COVID-19 information.